5 Horse Show Mistakes Which Make You Ride Like a Chimp

I’m sure you have seen them at a horse show or even been one of those people in the show ring who might as well have been replaced by a chimp. Here are my top 5 horse show mistakes which make you ride like a chimp ~ as seen from the judges box.

horse riding, horse training, hunter jumper, laura kelland-may, horse riding ontario, Thistle ridge Stables,

Are you a champ or a chimp?

Saying “H-Up” when you want the horse to jump the fence.

This is completely un-necessary and is very disconcerting when you say, “h-up”, and the horse chips in another stride. Please remain calm and remain in your seat until the horse comes to a complete stop (hopefully at the out gate and not in front of the next fence!)

Creative Commons License photo credit: smerikal

Over Zealous Clucking

This should be banned. Excessive clucking is distracting and shows the judge you have no leg. If you have to cluck 11-teen million infinity times your horse is not listening to you. Image if I repeated, repeated, repeated, repeated, repeated, repeated, repeated the same thing? – how many repeated did you actually look at. Cluck once and get a result already.

Laying on Your Horse’s Neck to make the fence look/feel bigger than it really is.

Of course if you are jumping in the 4 foot hunters or the big jump off – please stay with your horse and ride away. But, however, if you are in the pre-intro to baby-hunter short-stirrup-lead-line-over cross-rail division there is no need for you to SLAM! your chin into the horse’s crest performing the foetal position on horseback – stay up and protect your pearly whites.  Of course laying on your horse’s neck doesn’t fool anyone. All it really does is load your horse’s front end so it can not jump properly.

 Saying “Goooooood BOOOoooy (or Girrrrrrl).

This is particularly disastrous when, according to the judge, it wasn’t as good as what you think it is/was. As a judge if I hear someone say – “good girl” I think, isn’t that nice, she is thanking her horse for a lovely round. If I hear “Gooood BOOOYYYEEEE!” as the rider flings herself around the horse’s neck, I think, well  it really wasn’t that good, he chipped at 2, he trotted into 6, disunited to 7 and added into 8 – I wonder – did I miss something?

 Looking Down For Your Diagonal or Lead.

I really think even a chimp could feel a diagonal or lead if his meal ticket depended on it. Why not train yourself to feel for that diagonal? From the judges box I notice if you drop your head down to see a diagonal or lead. If you do, you will be marked down and could lose a placing over it!

 Do you ride like a champ or a chimp?

Maybe there are some great chimp riders out there. I wonder if they over cluck, look down and slam their foreheads into the horse’s crest? I doubt it.


Do you have other pet peeves you have seen at horse shows you would like to share?

We’d love to hear from you.



BTW – I have seen all of these and done a few myself from time to time.

About Laura

Laura Kelland-May is the founder of Thistle Ridge Skill Builders Development Program. She more than trains horses, she trains people to train their horses. In addition she is a Sr. Judge and can offer insight into What the Judge Is Looking For. Follow her here and get more tips.
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4 Responses to 5 Horse Show Mistakes Which Make You Ride Like a Chimp

  1. Very funny, but sadly true!

  2. Laura says:

    Thank you DreamCatcher. I think I could have added few more but stopped myself at 5. Which ones is the most popular?

  3. Pingback: What the Judge is Looking For - 5 Things The Judge Won't Tell You | Thistle Ridge Equestrian Services

  4. Pingback: Horse Show Tip # 1 - Get To The Jump | Thistle Ridge Equestrian Services

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